Wednesday, December 01, 2010

FCC chairman proposes Internet rules that fall short of 'net neutrality' but draw GOP opposition

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski today outlined a framework for broadband Internet access that prevents service providers from blocking lawful content but allows them to charge different prices based on levels of service.  The approach appears to split the difference between advocates of "net neutrality," a policy that would ban Internet service providers from discriminating among types of information when it comes to price or access, and those who favor a completely free-market approach. "The fight may continue as neither side in the net-neutrality debate is expected to be completely satisfied with the outcome," Marguerite Reardon writes for CNET News. For rural residents, net neutrality is intended to guarantee that smaller, locally-owned internet users -- be they businesses or consumers -- would not be squeezed off the internet by companies that had paid a premium for unlimited Internet access.

"The proposal will allow broadband providers to impose usage-based charges so that customers using more bandwidth would get charged more than customers using less," Reardon reports. "The FCC will also allow providers to experiment with offering specialized services that could provide higher-quality access to consumers rather than sending applications and content over the public Internet. Broadband providers will also be required to justify why these services require dedicated bandwidth rather than being delivered over the public Internet." Also, broadband companies would not be able to give preference to "their own services or their customers' premium services."
"The agency scaled back its goals in the face of stiff political resistance," Jeffry Bartash reports for MarketWatch. "Genachowski has decided not to use the commission’s telephone regulatory powers to govern broadband Internet service, a move that he proposed in May that would potentially open Internet service to heavier government regulation," Edward Wyatt of The New York Times reported, based on an advance copy of the speech provided to the newspaper. Wyatt said the plan would "allow broadband companies to impose usage-based pricing, charging customers higher prices if they make heavy use of data-rich applications like streaming movies. The FCC would also allow companies to provide separate highways outside the public Internet for "specialized services" like health care or home security.

Wired and wireless broadband providers would be treated differently. Wireline companies "will be prohibited from blocking lawful content, applications, services and the connection of non harmful devices to the network," Genachowski said, adding that rules for wireless should be more flexible. "For wireless broadband, the fastest-growing segment of the industry, the proposal includes a transparency requirement and 'a basic no-blocking rule' covering Web sites and certain applications that compete with services that the broadband provider also offers," Wyatt writes. He reports that it is unclear whether the proposal has the support of the majority of the five-member FCC, because another Democratic commissioner favors stronger regulation. (Read more)

The proposal is expected to meet Republican opposition in Congress. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee launched a preemptive attack, vowing to fight to overturn any net-neutrality order that the FCC may vote on at its Dec. 21 meeting, Eliza Krigman of National Journal reports. "This is a hysterical reaction by the FCC to a hypothetical problem," Blackburn said. (Read more)

1 comment:

Ashfactory said...

How nice! We in washington have successfully destroyed all the American Economy but the Internet. Finally, the Internets time "has come to go deeper". Don't you understand that charging per Usage means DEATH to Millions of Legit Small Businesses based in the US and surviving ONLY because of the Cheap Internet Cost. Well, you DO know it and you specifically target them.